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The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR Paperback – May 11, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR, longtime marketing strategist Al Ries and his daughter/business partner Laura Ries offer solid arguments championing the latter over the former for modern-day brand building. Such a stance is hardly new for these two, who have jointly, individually, and with others written eight previous books on related topics since Al penned The Positioning Era Cometh for Advertising Age some three decades ago. What's fresh this time is the dissection of contemporary corporate hits--like Starbucks, Botox, eBay, and even Harry Potter--that have eschewed traditional advertising and nevertheless soared to the top through the savvy use of public relations. The authors spend the first part of the book discussing how advertising lost credibility among consumers as it became more of a creative art than a sales tool, and the second part showing how PR subsequently supplanted it in effectiveness. Using the above examples and others, they explain how such practices can work in various situations (building a new brand, rebuilding an old one, dealing with line extensions, etc.), as well as ways advertising can still be usefully employed (primarily to maintain a brand and "keep it on course"). The result is both provocative and practical. --Howard Rothman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Marketing strategists Ries and Ries spend all 320 pages of their latest book arguing one point: skillful public relations is what sells, not advertising. Case in point: the failure of Pets.com's sock puppet ads. However, in a chapter devoted to dot-com advertising excesses, the authors never mention that many dot-coms had miserable business plans and neophyte management. (The Rieses may be counting on the sock puppet to sell another commodity, as a deflated sock puppet dominates the book's jacket.) Today, most small companies aren't bloated with venture capital to buy TV ads, yet the book has little practical advice on how these companies' executives should use public relations, particularly PR's most important role: crisis control. Some readers might resent paying $24.95 for what amounts to an advertisement for pricey PR consulting firms like Ries & Ries. The authors frequently poke fun at the most outrageous TV ads of recent years, paralleling Sergio Zyman's The End of Advertising As We Know It (reviewed above), a more thoughtful critique of current advertising trends. The inherent flaw in the Rieses' logic: time and again they cite ad campaigns for new products that are "off message" and then say how much sales declined; this supports the notion that products and services are sold by good advertising. Although their book is occasionally entertaining, the argument is simplistic and self-serving. Illus.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; Reprint edition (May 11, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060081996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060081997
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #390,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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57 of 63 people found the following review helpful By Michael Foudy on September 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR is a good overview of the weaknesses of the advertising sector. The rising costs (far in excess of inflation), declining credibility and decreasing media audiences for advertising are all valid points. But as my high school journalism teacher used to say, there is "an abundancy of redundancy" in this book. That in fact is it's first major weakness.
It's second major weakness is the premise that PR is "THE" answer for marketers. That simply isn't the full truth. The truth is that PR is an answer and an important one. But, PR is far from a silver bullet. As someone who has been involved in the marketing communications industry for 34 years and who owned a successful PR firm for 13 of those years, I can say that PR suffers from its own significant limitations. PR can't be controlled; the "news hole" in newspapers, magazines and in the electronic media is shrinking as costs increase and the audience is balkenized; and, PR efforts are never guaranteed to deliver any audience. Those aren't insignificant problems to overcome.
The real answer is an intelligently integrated mix of advertising, Public Relations, direct, interactive and viral marketing selected by someone who knows what they are doing; who is focused on matching the marketing communications plan and its implementation to the budget and financial objectives of the client; and who takes the time to understand the wants and needs of the customer.
Nevertheless, Ries and Ries perform a valuable service of exposing the weaknesses inherent in the advertising business. The points they make are valid and one conclusion is clear. Somethings going to give in the advertising world. This is the books major strength.
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50 of 60 people found the following review helpful By David A. Stedman on October 16, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Don't be victimized by this shallow, self serving analysis that is purely intended to stir up controversy thereby selling books at the expense of the readers best interests and the reputation and credibility of the authors. There are too many flaws in their reasoning to discuss here, but here are the main ones.
-- They indite advertising by calling attention to the dot bombs and their advertising campaigns... as though advertising caused the failure of these Internet based companies. Let's use their cover story as a case in point. Was the failure of pets.com the result of it's ad campaign or was it because the company was founded on a flawed business model? The campaign was very creative and memorable. People loved the sock puppet. But not enough to make them go online and order mass quantities of dog food and cat chew toys! People naturally prefer to buy that stuff as needed in the grocery store. Don't hang that one on the advertising, Al. The best P/R in the world couldn't have saved that company.
-- Other examples of "advertising failures" are similarly flawed. Did Chevrolet lose market share because they advertised, or because the Japanese and Germans built better cars at cheaper prices? If they had placed P/R stories instead of ads, would consumers have paid more to get an inferior car? Don't be absurd.
-- They indite advertising as being less credible and more self serving than P/R which is viewed as a third party source. That may be true, but that also makes P/R an undependable medium when it comes to promoting a brand. Why? Because the print editors and broadcast producers ARE a third party and they may or may not decide to run your story! They may not review your product, they may decide to blast it or they might ridicule and make fun of it.
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36 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Liz Raymond on August 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If John Ralston Saul ever decided to write a book to debunk the advertising world's groupthink about its almighty influence on the consumer, this would be it.
I read this book on a flight from LA to Toronto and couldn't put it down. I found that this book answered questions that I had often asked myself about whether advertising really impacts sales numbers. If you ever sit in front of the tv and wonder "Who is the genius that thought that ad would actually get me to buy something?" or you get the Energizer bunny confused with Duracell you might find this a very interesting read.
The book is broken down into four parts:
The Fall of Advertising which details various arenas in which advertising proclaims its superiority (Advertising and Car Salesmen, Advertising and the Dotcoms, Advertising and Credibility are some chapter titles);
The Rise of PR in which there is a primer of sorts on how PR can be used more effectively than advertising (Rebuilding an Old Brand with PR, Dealing with Line Extensions);
A New Role For Advertising in which the authors suggest that the bathwater not get completely tossed out with the baby--that advertising does have a place....as a cart after the horse (Maintaining the Brand);
and finally The Differences Between Advertising and PR which gets a little cloying in the use of analogies but is a good read nonetheless (Advertising is the Wind. PR Is the Sun, Advertising is Incredible. PR is Credible.)
What I liked about the book:
1. It has a breezy, shoot from the hip conversational feel
2. There are ample anecdotes backing up the hypotheses--makes for a very lively read...lots of "Oh ya...I always WONDERED about that" responses.
3. It made me really think about how brainwashed our society is about the value of advertising.
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